With a new format for 2019, the Custom Shootout tournament committee added a mandatory lay day to the 18th annual event. However, Mother Nature would not only enforce that lay day, but also require another because of high winds and heavy rains, thanks to a tropical system parking itself over the Bahamas.
For two days, the custom-boat fleet waited out the weather for an incredible finish that would have the winner emerging in the final few minutes of the now two-day Shootout.
On Day One, Blue Sky released a blue marlin just 10 minutes after lines in, but was unable to keep the momentum going as Gray Ingram, fishing aboard Hit ‘N Run, released two blues in a little more than one hour, ultimately winning the daily for his team. The second-place daily winner—Electric Bill—was also on the board with two blue marlin, which were part of a tripleheader, but it failed to release its fish before Ingram, coming in second for the daily.
Day Two was a nail-biter as Capt. Ed Dwyer’s Bear Trap, which managed three white marlin on the first day, began its ascent to the top of the leaderboard by releasing a doubleheader of white marlin at 8:40 and 8:42 a.m. As the hours passed, Dwyer and his team continued to pick away at the whites.
But Electric Bill‘s 2018 Bermuda Triple Crown-winning captain, Jerry Owens, and his team of just two anglers—Mike Riseley and Chad Sanders—were concentrating on adding to their blue marlin tally—each worth 400 points—by teasing and switching the fish to the pitch.
With slightly more than an hour of competition time left, Bear Trap was sitting on top with 1,500 points, and the 61-foot Chadwick team, Three Times L, in second. It seemed that Owens’ team would finish in third until a double of blues materialized in the spread.
Riseley managed to make quick work of the first, smaller one while the second, larger fish got strung out and eventually sounded on Sanders.
Check out our inside guide to marlin fishing in the Abacos.
At 4:25 p.m., Electric Bill called in Sanders’ release to put the team in first with two blues for the day and four blues for the tournament for a winning total of 1,600 points. Bear Trap placed second with a total of nine white marlin releases, and Three Times L placed third with 1,200 points for its three released blue marlin.
Bear Trap‘s John Stout was named Top Angler and Tonya Love-Cheatham, fishing aboard Isleña, was the tournament’s Top Lady Angler.